2 Day Diabetes Diet Book, Could It Work For You
What if you could diet just two days a week and successfully prevent, treat, or possibly even banish type 2 diabetes from your life? That’s the claim put forth by the author and editors of the 2 Day Diabetes Diet, recently published by Reader’s Digest. It is a claim you can believe?
Just another diabetes diet book?
The 2 Day Diabetes Diet makes the typical claims about how quickly you can lose weight in just a few weeks (in this case, 3 weeks) and how much you can lower your blood sugar levels (up to 32 points, reportedly) if you follow the plan presented in the book. So far, these are promises similar to those made in scores of other books.
I was initially pleased to read that the approach to diet covered in this book was based on a “breakthrough study” in which “people who restricted carb and calorie intake just 2 days a week lost more weight and lowered insulin levels.” That sounded promising as well.
I was disappointed, however, when I saw that a grand total of 10 people were in the study. Therefore this book was written to tout a plan that was followed by the number of people you can count on two hands.
So what is involved in this “breakthrough study” and diet plan? The book promises that the “special mix of foods and nutrients” will fill you up even though you will be consuming fewer calories and that “you won’t feel like you’re dieting at all.” The authors say “Trust us: You will not go hungry.”
Here’s the plan in a nutshell: 5 days a week are considered Nourish days on which you can eat “reasonable portions of all your favorite foods,” while the other two days of the week (those magic 2 days known as Power Burn days) you drastically reduce your calorie intake.
In other words: on Nourish days, you are told to eat about 1,500 calories and to follow the Mediterranean diet. On Power Burn days you eat only 600 to 650 calories and follow a low-carb way of eating.
The Power Burn days are designed to cause your metabolism to shift from burning carbs to burning fat. The result is supposed to be a reduction in the size of your fat cells and help putting an end to insulin resistance and inflammation, both of which are key characteristics of type 2 diabetes.
Nothing new here, as use of the Mediterranean diet has been well researched (and studies continue) regarding its benefits for diabetes as well as other diseases. In addition, eating just 600 calories a day, even if it’s just two days a week, should lead to weight loss, especially if you consume only 1,500 calories on the other days.
Why the Nourish and Power Burn approach
The authors explain that humans evolved living in a feast and famine environment, and many of us have inherited what the book calls “thrifty genes,” which cause the body to save up or hoard fat during lean times and rapidly store energy (“plump out fat cells even more”) during good times.
Today, people have an abundance of thrifty genes. At the same time, for those who exist in an environment of plenty, it’s difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Even when you gain just a few pounds the threat of diabesity raises its ugly head, making it difficult to stop additional weight gain.
What is diabesity? This book describes it as when diabetes meets excess body fat, and that it is the main cause of diabetes around the globe. Mark Hyman, MD, who has written extensively on the subject of diabetes (but who is not associated with this book), defines it as a “condition of metabolic imbalance and diseases that ranges all the way from mild blood sugar imbalance to full blow diabetes.”
Hyman also explains that regardless of what your doctor may call it—obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, insulin resistance—they are all the same disease, in varying degrees, with the same cause. Because they are all the same health issue, treatment for each and every one is also the same—diet and lifestyle changes, combined with environmental toxins that interact with each person’s unique genetic susceptibilities.
Now back to the 2 Day Diabetes Diet book. The other part of the diet involves “five key practices,” which the authors claim “can help you tame blood sugar and drop pounds—for the last time.” Three of the five are required and two are not.
I have already mentioned two of the five required practices: Nourish Days and Power Burn days. The third required practice is Satisfaction eating, which the author says allows you to indulge in something you feel you can’t do without. You are told you can indulge twice a week, but that you should choose your treat from their list, which includes ½ cup ice cream, one 2-inch cookie, and 1 ounce of dark chocolate.
The two optional practices are stress management (they call it Tension Taming) and exercise (aka Moving). Since exercise is such a critical part of diabetes management, it seems this practice should be required. Delegating exercise as well as stress management to a second-string position seems to be, in my opinion, another negative of the book, although the authors do dedicate a chapter to each topic.
What are the plusses of the book? It’s laid out well, the photographs are appealing, and it has lots of recipes and tips on how to prepare to follow this eating plan. The same things, however, can be said for many other diabetes diet books.
How long should you follow this diet
The authors “actually recommend that you stay on a version of the 2 Day Diabetes Diet for the rest of your life.” People who want to successfully drop weight, keep it off, and help prevent or manage diabetes at the same time should choose an eating plan and a lifestyle plan that works on two levels: it accomplishes their goals and they can live with it.
Is the 2 Day Diabetes Diet eating plan one you can realistically follow for the rest of your life? That’s a question only you can answer. (Naturally, you should consult a trusted healthcare professional before starting any new diet plan, especially if you are taking insulin or any other medication.)
Mark Hyman, MD. The diabesity epidemic part I: how diabetes and obesity are ravaging America today. Huffington Post, Dec. 10, 2009
Palinski-Wade E and editors of Reader’s Digest. 2 Day Diabetes Diet. New York: Reader’s Digest Association, 2013.